Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Too Quiet On The ROSSAC Front

Why did the superintendent's 'auto-opener' Spring Break wish rub me the wrong way? I told myself I was going to "flush" my attitude and hoped it would stay down. I was going to take a break from "The Wall" and come back with a new perspective. I left everything at school.

It didn't take long ( lunch, Monday) for me to realize that our leadership was going to pretend that everything was OK!! If no one said anything then maybe "it" would go away. Admittedly, I stayed away from the newspaper and the TV news (it felt good) but nobody at school was talking about any news reports.

The newspapers appear distracted and are unlikely to be supportive - lip service at best. Start to notice how much they "spend" in advertising. The district spin-meister is a former Times reporter. They leverage the money very effectively.

Where is our CTA? Look at their web site (www.hillscta.org). THERE IS NOTHING!!! It's tax time so the money they collect should still be a fresh memory. THERE IS NOTHING!!! God ladies: MAKE AN EFFORT!

There is STILL anger and teachers are quietly crying out for something that resembles leadership.

This suggestion comes from a rank and file comment in the Board Meeting post and IT IS TIME TO TRY SOMETHING TOGETHER.

"For everyone's consideration: Let's plan to email EACH board member and the Superintendent a short and sweet "memo" that we are not happy with the Superintendent's plan. Include a simple sentence about what we may not be able to do in the time that the plan is alloting us. A suggested solution could be optional. We should send the email on ONE of the following days: Thursday April 5, Friday April 6, or Saturday April 7. (numerologists take note)


We do not want to blow up the email inboxes or tax the system. It is NOT our intent to do damage. It is our intent to display our unity, displeasure, and professional thoughtfulness as displayed by the 3 target days which include a Saturday. This not not appear to violate any District Email Guideline and actually will indicate how much the Board supports its own goal for improved communication.

We have enough teachers to fill the Forum.

Roll call begins now!"

Get your emails ready.

Use First Class. After all it is the district's program for communication. If you address it -

To: School-Board-Members
MaryEllen Elia

your thoughts and concerns will get to them all with a minimum of typing.

Pick a day and push "SEND". You won't be alone.

Next Board Meeting: April 10th.

Suzie


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's not let up and we should be speaking at every single Board meeting.

How about some of the high schools we haven't heard from yet. Help!

Pork Chop Pete

Cable Guy said...

Good point. The format is NOT public friendly. Having to endure the PR and back slapping can wear down the best of us.

I LIKE this email idea as a viable alternative since it allows me to express myself on my OWN TIME without limit, BUT piss me off and they will see my face up close and personal too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pork Chop Pete. We need to get involvement from other schools as well. Talk to your friends who teach in other schools... find out if they are interested and encourage them to join us. We can't force the same teachers to carry the burden of this campaign! We all have to work together. See if you school can host a teacher meeting after school so you can find other teachers at your school who are interested and perhaps just need some guidence.

Carla Crabapple

Goader said...

We might be barking up the wrong tree. As it stands, many high school teachers are dissatisfied with the extra teaching period next year. To add insult to injury, the extra class they are receiving t-pay for this year will become part of regular pay next. In other words, next year the district is going to be sitting pretty when suddenly all the money going to t-pay this year will be in the coffers next year.

The problem is the terminology in the contract; it is antiquated and not consistent. The contract talks about maximum number of subject areas and preparations as discreet units. However, then it shifts to minutes when addressing teaching time. We teach between bells regardless of how long that time is. When the fourteenth bell of the day rings, the regular day is complete. The contract needs to read X-number of periods per day teaching time with perhaps a 300-minute cap. That way there can be no misunderstanding or discrepancies. Every aspect of the bell schedule is concerning periods—sometimes they are longer or shorter on club days or during inclement weather. No matter their length in a day, the schedule is about periods (period). However, there is a cap, when a specific time of the day arrives and school is over.

The contract needs to be written the way we teach: so many periods per day (regardless of how long they are) with a predetermined cap at the end of the day expressed in minutes. The periods take precedence and the minutes are a limiting factor.

Back to our barking up the wrong tree. As it is now, it is only the high school teachers against the district and with a complicit CTA. Apparently, the change does not affect elementary teachers and I am not sure about middle school. We are barking at the district at the top of the tree, while CTA has the district’s back by boxing us in from below. Those teachers not affected are further cover for CTA since they are distracted with their own concerns—just not the same concerns as teaching an extra period.

Finally, the school board meetings are not high school teacher friendly, as I arrive to work at six-fifteen in the morning and everyone is here by seven-fifteen. The Board makes speakers wait 4 or 5 hours to voice their concerns, and then it treats its teachers to the same time limit as non-teachers. Hurry up and say what you got to say and have a nice evening—short, sweet, done.

We are barking up the wrong tree, when we need to be looking for new representation. What remedy do teachers have if they are dissatisfied with its union? In our country, all forms of representation have a means of addressing the current establishment when it ceases to represent its people. How was the union formed in the first place and how do we make changes to clarify its role? How do we dissolve the current union and form a new one? Who knows the answers to these questions? Woof-Woof

Suzie Creamcheese said...

goader,

Ironically I think I was working on my lastest post as you were posting your comment. If we arrived at similar conclusions OTHERS must be too. We are living in "interesting" times my friend. Glad we're on the same side.

Suzie

settergirl said...

While I certainly agree that CTA is not as aggressive as I wish they would be, I would offer another point of view. First, I have heard the president of CTA encourage teachers to continue to speak out at the board meeting. It seems to me that since Florida teachers are legally prevented from striking that FL unions have little power i.e. nothing to "threaten" board with. Secondly, since only 20% of Hillsborough teachers belong to CTA, neither the board nor the superintendent would be obliged to really listen to CTA on this issue since it is largely elementary school teachers who are paying dues. So it stands to reason that CTA is somewhat hamstringed by the small membership.

Don't get me wrong. I do wish they would be more outspoken, but then I can see that antagonizing the board would not help them in bargaining since legally CTA has no real teeth. And it is true that this issue is affected by the language of our contract as well as state law. We can't pretend the legal issues don't matter.

What is concerning me even more though is the fact that it is still largely teachers from Freedom and Armwood that are attending and speaking at board meetings. All of the posters here refer to how many of their colleagues are upset. WHERE ARE THEY AND WHY AREN'T THEY COMING TO THE BOARD MEETINGS? Would we not be strengthening CTA even though we aren't members if they could point to the fact that every meeting in April, May, June, July, August, etc was filled with teachers who came to make sure the board and the superintendent know is IS NOT just a SMALL group of malcontents who are objecting?

Again I ask -- if there really are so many teachers upset over this 6/7 issue -- WHERE ARE THEY? The media would never ignore us if the board room was filled at every meeting and if there were people carrying signs up and down the sidewalk. The paper could not just simply dismiss us. And I don't think the board could take the heat.

So when are we teachers going to stop complaining -- which is what we ALWAYS do -- and START ACTING?

WHERE ARE ALL OF YOU WHO ARE SO UPSET AND WHY AREN'T YOU COMING TO THE BOARD MEETINGS? You don't even have to speak -- your mere presence will speak volumes --- IF there are enough of you!!!

Suzie Creamcheese said...

"WHERE ARE THEY AND WHY AREN'T THEY COMING TO THE BOARD MEETINGS?"

At home with their family, working a second job, fearful of reprisal, or not willing to wait for hours for 2-3 minutes of "farce" time.

I can understand that it takes a while for some to make it to the party. Others will be more passive-aggressive. It is just like the classroom - everything is a bell curve.

Promoting the email alternative is a first step. It allows those to take a few minutes and let the Board know how they feel. It can be done from home.

It is a testiment to the Armwood and Freedom faculties and their administrators (for not impeding or intimidating their right to speak freely) that they are making their feelings known.

Perhaps the CTA timidity is better suited representing the elementary teachers - it clearly is not helping middle and high school teachers. 20% representation is a miserable figure. I'm sure it has to be tough for the association to avoid letting the membership know how weak they are. What is even worse is that they are NOT playing to their strengths.

"So when are we teachers going to stop complaining -- which is what we ALWAYS do -- and START ACTING?"

Good question.

Anonymous said...

No, we can;t strike.

However, all of the tenured teachers could certainly sign up for their CONTRACTUALLY ALLOWED year's sabbatical during the 2007-2008 school year.

If a few hundred of us signed up for it, what would happen, ya think?

Suzie Creamcheese said...

OOOOOhhhhhhhh a mass sabbatical!! Now there is an idea worth pursuing. It would certainly provide a year away from the chaos of 6/7.

Will someone post the requirements or guidelines?

This can be one option that is accessible to us.

BTW whatever happened to the hard copy edition of our contract that used to be available on request?

Anonymous said...

The link is here, on the school board site - not CTA's, naturally.

settergirl said...

By the way, don't kid yourself -- the Armwood and Freedom teachers have been informed albeit with more inuendo than will a real threat that their administations are not happy with their activities. Mostly these administrations are sitting smugly watching, figuring nothing is going to happen simply because it is the same people who keep going and speaking. These administrators see this as proof that it is simply a small group of gripers and that the majority of the teachers in the county will --- now just how did Elia put it -- "....rise to the challenge." I haven't enjoyed the 12 or so hours I gave up and I work another job and have just finished National Board. Yet this issue is important so I make the time. I truly believe we all find time for what we think is important. That's why I am so dissapointed at the turnout at the meetings. Emails are easy to delete. A board room packed to overflowing with concerned teachers willing to sacririce their time to bring their issues to bear is not so easy to ignore and is more likely to get media attention. Do we want to see this issue resolved or not? If we do, then we have to make it happen.